It’s not uncommon for parents who have remarried to want to change a child’s last name to be the same as the step-father’s surname. In many of these cases, additional siblings have been born into the family, each bearing the family surname, and the older child feels like the odd man out.
Under these circumstances, a child may even ask for his or her name to be changed to match the rest of the family, especially in cases where the child’s current last name represents a father who is not part of the child’s life. Allowing the child to change his or her name seems like a no-brainer.
Changing a child’s name is a serious undertaking
Even though cases like the situation described above are not complicated, Texas law recognizes the fact that children normally begin life with two parents. Like matters related to custody and support, unless parental rights have been terminated, parents generally have the right to be notified of legal proceedings involving their children and also have the right to object or otherwise respond in the case.
For this reason, legally changing a child’s name requires a court order, absent a few limited exceptions such as correcting a clerical error on the birth certificate.
Paternity proceedings can lead to a name change
If court proceedings were initiated to determine paternity of the child, a name change for the child may be part of the final order, when applicable. Although paternity may have been the basis of the court proceedings, a name change can be a by-product of the action. Outside of paternity proceedings, a name change may be pursued through a petition filed specifically for that purpose.
A parent or legal guardian can be the petitioner
In Texas, a minor child cannot commence a court action alone, even if the child is the one wanting the name change. A parent or legal guardian or conservator must file the petition asking a court to change the child’s name.
If both parents or all of the child’s legal guardians don’t agree to a name change, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether the name change is in the best interest of the child. If the court agrees to change the child’s name, the judge will issue an order, which can then be used to get a new birth certificate and other identification cards.
Call for answers to your family law questions
The attorneys at Peterson Law Group are ready to answer your family law questions regarding a name change, paternity proceeding, divorce, custody, visitation or support. Call one of our experienced Conroe, Texas divorce attorneys at 936-337-4681 or 979-703-7014 to set up a meeting or visit us online today.